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Democrats Roll the Dice One Last Time on Mueller

Democrats Roll the Dice One Last Time on Mueller

Robert Mueller would rather not be appearing on Capitol Hill today. But Democrats want to hear from the former special counsel, who stated at a press conference in May that he'd prefer let his 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election speak for itself. So the former FBI director will appear before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees to answer lawmakers' questions about the Russia affair, and his investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in relation to the probe.

It's a risky gambit for the Democrats who, as the 2020 election approaches, are suffering an internal schism between progressives who want to rally the base and moderates who prefer to seek the support of swing voters. For Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats, the public response to today's hearings will be an important barometer of how hard to push impeachment – or the Russia affair more broadly – as a campaign issue in the run-up to next November.

On the one hand, they may get Mueller to say, or restate in a TV-friendly way, something politically damaging about the Trump campaign's interactions with Russians who were tied to Moscow's (well-documented) efforts to mess with the election, or about the president's actions related to the subsequent investigation.

But if Democrats come across as frustrated by Mueller, who is unlikely to go along with attempts to bait him into denouncing Trump, their gambit could backfire. They'll just look desperate.

The fact is that most Americans already know how they feel about Trump and the lines are bitterly partisan. A recent Reuters Ipsos poll found that just 18 percent of Republican respondents planned to tune in to today's hearings. Many other voters will encounter them only through soundbites and memes filtered by partisan news outlets or social media. It's not an environment that's conducive to debating the finer legal points of what constitutes an obstruction of justice by a sitting president.

We'll have a better sense of whether today's political theater moved the needle either way when the first post-hearing polls are published.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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